Angelos wants U.S. officials to step back

Don't order how money from O's-Cuba games is spent, owner says

January 29, 1999|By Mark Matthews | Mark Matthews,SUN NATIONAL STAFF

WASHINGTON -- Orioles owner Peter Angelos, seeking to arrange exhibition games between his club and a team of Cuban all-stars, wants the Clinton administration to refrain from dictating exactly how proceeds from the games should be spent.

Angelos returned from Havana last week without an agreement from the Cuban government for holding the games. He is scheduled to meet with Samuel R. Berger, the president's national security adviser, at 5 p.m. today.

The Cubans were annoyed at how the proposed games had been described by the Clinton administration. U.S. officials said firmly that none of the profits from the games could go to the government of Fidel Castro. Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright said the proceeds would go to the Catholic relief agency Caritas and be used to benefit the Cuban people directly.

In fact, Angelos said, "There never was any requirement that the net proceeds go to a particular charitable organization or group of organizations functioning in Cuba.

"Nor was there ever any insistence or intention by the Cubans that any proceeds be distributed to the Cuban government or [Cuban] governmental agency," he added in a telephone interview last night.

It would be helpful if the administration made these points clear, Angelos said.

The games are tentatively set for March 28 in Havana and April 3 at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, according to a source familiar with the talks. Both games would start at 1: 35 p.m.

Angelos said that the Cubans are entitled to any profits from the Havana game. The net proceeds from the Baltimore game should belong to the Orioles, he said.

"We're willing to contribute to a worthwhile cause, subject to the approval of our government," he said.

Profits from television coverage of the event may not even reach $200,000, according to Baltimore attorney Rick Schaeffer, one of those who has been trying to arrange the games.

"The national rights belong not to the Orioles but to Major League Baseball," thus limiting the Orioles' profits, he said. Plus, "the time frame within which the rights must be sold is very brief relative to the way most sporting events are sold. Consequently, there is a considerable diminishment of value."

Angelos said Berger had asked him before the Cuba trip to report back on how his meetings went with officials in Havana.

"If they [U.S. officials] don't want this mission to go on, then it's over," Angelos said.

Pub Date: 1/29/99

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